Introducing the new NFL Commissioner: Santa Claus

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Introducing the new NFL Commissioner: Santa Claus

Programming note:Ray hosts his weekly chat on CSNBayArea.com today at 12 p.m.Now that Roger Goodell has been reduced to JASIAS Just Another Supervisor In A Suit it may be time to reconsider not what a sports commissioner is, but what he (or she) should be.We know what a commissioner is, and we knew it well before the hilariously stupid NFL officials lockout. A commissioner is a front man for the franchise owners, and always has been, because the owners pay for him to be so. He does their bidding in all matters, and while Goodell pretended with some early success to be a lawgiver and molder of policy, his work in the players and officials lockouts revealed him to be Gary Bettman, or David Stern, or Bud Selig at half the cost.The guy who stands up and does the heavy lifting for the owners agenda, but who has little independence or freedom of action on his own.We can rehash the officials fiasco if you like, but we think you already get the gist of that. The owners sacrificed the product for an ideology (kill off all pensions) and an infinitesimal amount of money, and the customers cared about the product. Theyll put up with a lot, including the fact that players sacrifice far more short- and long-term health than they realize in playing, but the game itself better not be screwed with in any real way.RATTO:Referees-NFL labor dispute downgrades GoodellThe replacement officials did that, through no actual fault of their own, and that was it. Those people who waited for Goodell to step in and fix the issue forgot that he had already stepped in, on the wrong side, because he was obligated by the nature of the job to take up the owners desires, wrongheaded and stupid though they were.And the result was that pensions for officials will be phased out, but at the cost of Goodells public invincibility. He will now know what Stern and Bettman and Selig have learned the public believes them to be well-compensated hall monitors, the upper-management functionaries who tell you youre being laid off or having your hours cut so that the owner doesnt have to soil his hands.And nobody likes that guy. Nobody. Goodell lost a lot in these three weeks, to the point where he may be looking eye-to-eye with Bettman, who is now the front man for the owners latest player lockout. Most people who study the NHL know that the real problems here lie with the owners, and that the strategy of making the players pay for the owners failings is not a good enough reason to shut down the game again.And Bettmans reward for carrying their water is to be loathed for the act of carrying it. Just as Stern was during the NBA lockout, and Selig was when baseball went on strike as often as the Italian government.So if the commissioner has finally been revealed to even the most delusional of observers to be merely the owners version of a dean of students, its time to ask a question:Whats the point?If commissioners arent going to be paid by the owners and players jointly, they will always be owners lackeys, and as lackeys unable to convince the owners when theyre doing something shortsighted, stupid and damaging (like, well, you know). And if we all understand what commissioners truly are, why would we take anything they say or do seriously again?So we offer three notions.1. Let the players pay for half the commissioners salaries, and let them truly be neutral, fair-minded and influential. This wont happen, of course, because owners like this arrangement far too much, and because players never fight hard enough for off-field issues. If the owners need a front man for whatever they want to do, let it be one of them, so they can actually know what the outside world thinks of whatever it is theyre trying to do.2. Rather than name the commissioner in any player issue from now on, media people should merely substitute the word owners, or better yet, name each of the owners specifically. If that is too long and cumbersome, name the local owner or owners specifically in all stories, so they can enjoy the other kind of ownership the one called responsibility for actions taken. Outsourcing a blame magnet has run its course, and Goodells charred reputation is proof of that.3. Rename the commissioner to more accurately reflect his or her duties. TV rights negotiator, or First Lawyer, or Consigliere, or Designated Abuse Magnet would all be preferable.4. Or, most accurately of all, Santa. The commissioners true powers are that mythical, he has to do the heavy lifting that Mrs. Claus (the real boss of the operation) doesnt do, his job is doling out little rewards or punishments for behavior, and he is largely in charge of the bell-ringing and ho-ho-hos.Or just dont have one at all. If the myth of commissioners power ended when Kenesaw Mountain Landis died, we have been fooling ourselves for nearly 70 years now, and thats enough for even the hardiest of childrens tales.

For Vlade Divac, trading DeMarcus Cousins difficult but necessary

For Vlade Divac, trading DeMarcus Cousins difficult but necessary

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings had an epiphany. After seven years of trying things with DeMarcus Cousins, it was time to give it a go without him.

Vlade Divac stood in front of a firing squad of reporters Monday afternoon, fielding questions as to how the Kings not only moved on from their franchise player, but carefully maneuvering around why they received so little in return.

“I decided to make a decision at the best time, best offer we had,” Divac said. “Moving forward was very important for us to think about our culture and try to win. You can’t win if you don’t have a culture.”

[RATTO: The Ranadive Paradox: Every choice Kings face almost guarantees failure]

Culture was the word of the day and Divac knows a thing or two about that. The sharp move away from both Cousins and veteran Matt Barnes, who was waived to make room for the incoming Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, set the Kings on a new path.

Divac was quick to point out that Sacramento had a better offer on the table the day before they pulled the trigger to send their star big to New Orleans. But the offer was rescinded, presumably when, according to league sources, teams around the league were informed that Cousins would not sign an extension with a new team, making him a short term rental.

Sacramento went with what they deemed was the best possible offer after collecting information from teams around the league over the past few months. The Kings kept the door open to a potential long term extension with Cousins, but in the end, another six seasons with the talented, but unpredictable big left them with serious questions.

Despite his status as a three-time All-Star and gold medal Olympiad, Cousins still found the waters treacherous with regards to officiating.

According to a league source, the team grew tired of the constant issues on the court. After promising the star big that they had no intentions of moving him during a private meeting on Feb 2, he went out two days later in an overtime win against the Golden State Warriors and picked up his 14th technical foul.

[RELATED: Report: Vivek Ranadive thinks Buddy Hield has Steph Curry potential]

Following the win, Cousins was also fined $25,000 by the league for making an inappropriate statement and gesture towards a Warriors fan in the tunnel.

Two days later he added technicals 15 and 16 against the Chicago Bulls and was suspended for the Kings’ matchup with the Boston Celtics.

Sacramento would go on to beat the Celtics with a massive team effort without Cousins. While it wasn’t the deciding factor, these events helped set the stage for his exit.

The trade comes at a time when the Kings sit just a game and a half out of the playoff picture. Kings fans have waited more than a decade for their team to get into the postseason and losing Cousins will likely end most of that talk.

“We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play with a lot of fun and improve everyday and try and compete and try to make the playoffs,” Divac said when asked what the fans should know about this move. “If not, we’re setting up ourselves in a good place to move forward to make a winning culture.”

Following the scrum, CSN California had an opportunity to discuss some of the topics with Divac in more depth.

Midway through his second season running the team, Divac had made building a relationship with Cousins a high priority. The two could often be seen having conversations both on and off the court.

“It was very difficult, I like him, he’s such a talented guy,” Divac told CSN. “I was really think hard about where we are going, where we are now, what we want to achieve and I made the decision to go other way.”

According to a league source, the entire basketball operations side was part of the discussion on the situation, including head coach Dave Joerger.

The Kings have built their team around the talented big each of the last seven season with the hope of turning the franchise around. Despite being in the conversation for the eighth seed, the Kings sit nine games under .500 with 25 contest left. Even if they found postseason paydirt, the Golden State Warriors would be waiting in round one.

The franchise was ready for a change. The dramatic shift in direction is jarring for everyone involved, but the Kings are confident they made the right decision for what is best for the franchise.

“I wouldn’t do it if I don’t feel comfortable,” Divac said. “Now we have a clear direction (of) what we want to do. I wouldn’t make a deal if I don’t feel comfortable.”

Sacramento returns to the court on Thursday evening when Michael Malone and the Denver Nuggets come through town. The team hasn’t shut the door on making more moves, but nothing is pending. It could be a wild couple of days in Kingsland.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today.